California Model

California Model News Coverage

Sharing stories and videos from media and community partners that highlight the transformational work being done in California prisons.

November 2023

A man in a fedora looks out over the ocean
Race in America: The conversation | NBC Bay Area

Take a look at race segregation inside prison, recidivism and whether education is the key to reform. Hear from men who served decades in prison – and how San Quentin became a place of redemption for them. Plus, we’ll take a look at Governor Newsom’s plan to transform San Quentin from a prison to a rehabilitation center.

Students in a classroom.
College-in-prison program to get guaranteed Cal State transfer admission | EdSource

Graduates from one of the most unusual community colleges in the country will soon receive guaranteed admission if they choose to transfer to the California State University system.  The nation’s largest public university system is developing a new college transfer program with Mount Tamalpais College at San Quentin.

A correctional officer leads a group on a tour
California prison officers are dying too young. How Norway (yes, Norway) can help | LA Times

Steve Durham was one of about a dozen members of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., or CCPOA, who let me tag along with them to Norway recently. They were there to see firsthand what all the hype is when it comes to the so-called Scandinavian model of incarceration, which California hopes to import in coming months.

A man stands inside a prison holding a laptop
Earning a master’s degree in prison now possible in ‘groundbreaking’ California program | LA Times

Luke Scott is one of 33 students enrolled in what the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or CDCR, has called a “groundbreaking” two-year master’s program in humanities, a collaboration with Cal State Dominguez Hills that launched in September.

Two men hug on a basketball court
Basketball game at San Quentin showcases prison’s reforms | NBC Bay Area

For the first time at San Quentin, the correctional officers played the prisoners in a game of basketball. The game was titled “Bridge the Gap.” It’s part of a larger change coming to San Quentin. It was once a full maximum security prison but will be transformed into more of a rehab facility. The goal is to promote positive interactions between the residents and staff.

October 2023

Three men and a women walk past prison cells.
Preparing the next generation of CDCR leaders through the Executive Leadership Institute | Chico State Today

The CDCR Executive Leadership Institute (ELI), developed in 2017, prepares state corrections executives to be decisive, effective, visionary leaders, and champions of change. ELI is a four-week program taught over four months. Participants are nominated by their supervisors to attend the professional development program.

Graphic of a ladder leading up a stack of books to a key that reads "Success"
Helping San Quentin students get an education – and a future | Marin Independent Journal

I’m a weekly volunteer teacher at San Quentin, helping prisoners learn literacy and reading comprehension in preparation to get a GED. Approximately 68% of the 3,787 people incarcerated at San Quentin do not have a high school education. It’s not a hard stretch to imagine the role that plays in the high recidivism rate once prisoners get released. Who can possibly get a job with a prison record and little to no education?

Four people at a table
‘Farm to corrections’ project provides fresh produce to people in prison | Davis Enterprise

California State Prison Solano, California Medical Facility and Folsom State Prison are part of a “farm to corrections” project, Harvest of the Month, which aims to serve seasonal, locally grown produce to people who are incarcerated in California, while opening new opportunities for California farmers.

A man in a blue suit against a black background
Council Charged With ‘Reimagining’ San Quentin
| The Observer

In naming his San Quentin Transformation Advisory Council in May, Gov. Gavin Newsom chose individuals with years of experience and unique perspectives. The 21-member council is charged with “reimagining” the state’s oldest prison into one better focused on rehabilitation. The council will provide recommendations and a plan to “bring transformational programmatic, cultural and physical change that can serve as a symbol of hope and change.”

A woman points to a DJ system while incarcerated people watch
Spiñorita inspires incarcerated Californians through music | KCRW

Almost every Saturday, Angela Ramirez, also known as “Spiñorita,” goes to California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) in the Inland Empire to lead a DJing class. She’s a teaching artist with the nonprofit Give A Beat in Laguna Beach. Their mission: Use music to heal people impacted by the criminal justice system. Spiñorita talks about her journey with KCRW’s Janaya Williams on All Things Considered. 

People play pickleball
Pickleball: Can a game change prison culture? | KALW

Earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom announced an ambitious goal to transform San Quentin State Prison into the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center. The hope is for this to be a first step towards a bigger change throughout the prison system in California. We’re kicking off the third season of Uncuffed with a story about one unlikely step toward this change — it involves nets, sweatbands, and paddles.

An incarcerated man in a graduation cap and gown
From defendants to diplomas | NBC San Diego

As part of the Restorative Justice Program, which began in 2016, Southwestern College faculty provide face-to-face instruction to incarcerated students. Since its inception, Southwestern College has served more than 1,500 students at the Donovan Correctional Facility.

A man speaks at a lectern
Sac State professor builds communication conduits | The Observer

Sacramento State professor Dr. Ernest Uwazie teaches criminal justice and serves as director of the university’s Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution. He’s also leading a transformative restorative justice training program. The program trains people to facilitate meetings between victims and their offenders and prepares both for face-to-face interaction.

A woman holding a guitar stands outside a prison
San Quentin prison gets a new music program | San Francisco Chronicle

Hoping to transform the lives of San Quentin prisoners through the healing power of music, longtime San Francisco vocal coach Essence Goldman has embarked on a new mission. Through her nonprofit organization, Believe Music Heals, Goldman plans to introduce a program of musical training and performance within the prison walls of California’s oldest penitentiary, aiming to foster creativity, community and personal improvement.

A mortarboard with a 2023 tassle
Finding freedom through education | KPBS

More than 20 students taking classes through Southwestern College will graduate Wednesday with associate’s degrees in sociology and liberal arts, but they won’t be on campus to receive their diplomas. That’s because they are incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.

September 2023

Four incarcerated men eat pears
Farm-to-Corrections Harvest of the Month Program | UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

UC ANR’s Nutrition Policy Institute has partnered with Impact Justice, ChangeLab Solutions, and CDCR to launch “Harvest of the Month,” a program which brings fresh, specialty produce into carceral institutions around California to improve the diets of incarcerated people, as well as improve their overall health and well-being.